Indigenous women and girls with disabilities as bigger targets of sexual violence

©Lynn Gehl

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural
Economic Development;
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and
Disability Inclusion;
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
November 12, 2020
Re: Indigenous Women and Girls with Disabilities are Bigger Targets of Sexual Violence

Dear Ministers Monsef, Qualtrough, and Miller,

We are writing to urge you as Ministers to take action on the matter of Indigenous women and girls with disabilities, both of whom are bigger targets of sexual violence. This is a human rights and social injustice issue that has received little media attention, little attention from politicians, and little attention from academics, educators, and sadly also the 231 Calls for Justice of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report. There is a dire need to make the invisible visible.

It is now understood that Indigenous women and girls are targets of sexual violence. It is also understood that Indigenous people have a disproportional number of disabilities. This is the result of Canada’s history of Indigenous people being denied the right to clean land, water, housing, and environmental racism. Perpetrators know Indigenous women and girls with disabilities are easier to prey upon. Indigenous women and girls with disabilities cannot see or hear a perpetrator approach, and women and girls in wheel chairs cannot get away, and further women and girls who are confined to bed cannot defend themselves or possibly even scream out for help.

We are aware that the reasons the needs of Indigenous women and girls with disabilities are not addressed has to do with a lack of awareness, and a lack of research dollars dedicated to the topic. It is difficult to find statistics on this topic. Despite this, there are informing statistics:

• 31% of Indigenous people have a disability. This is 2.3 times the national average. In
some Indigenous communities it is estimated that 40% of people live with a disability
(Durst and Bluechardt, 2001).• 83% of women with disabilities will experience sexual abuse (Stimpson and Best, 1991)
• Women and girls with disabilities experience physical and sexual assault at 4 times the
national average. Neurodiverse women and girls are especially vulnerable (National
Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2004).

As the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam; the Minster of Employment,
Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Carla; and the Minister of Indigenous
Services, Marc; we feel that you are most suited and politically situated to

  1. Ensure Indigenous women and girls with disabilities are included in the soon to be
    unfolded MMIWG National Action Plan;
  2. Launch a national awareness campaign re: Indigenous women and girls with disabilities
    are targeted by offenders because they are more vulnerable;
  3. Dedicate / direct government resources and funds to research the lived reality of
    Indigenous women and girls with disabilities who are bigger targets of sexual violence


Lynn Gehl, PhD, Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation
Alice Olsen Williams, Chair, Kawartha Truth & Reconciliation Support Group
Neil Belanger, E. D., British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society
Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of the DisAbled Women’s Network
Wendy Jocko, Chief Pikwàkanagàn First Nation
Ann Chadwick, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation
Veldon Coburn, PhD, Algonquin Anishinaabe
Jen Cole, PhD, Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe
Megan Stephens, E.D., and General Counsel, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
Hawa Mire, Executive Director, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Roy Brady, Council of Canadians Peterborough and Kawartha Chapter
Larry Gillman, President, Beth Israel Synagogue / Jewish Community Centre Peterborough
Charmaine Magumbe, Community and Race Relations Committee Chair Woman
Jill Jones, Chair, Peterborough Older Women Networking
Melodie McCullough, Journey Magazine
Elizabeth Pickett, Co-Ordinator Canadian Feminist Network
Marion Little, Member of the Peterborough Peace Council
Paul Brown, Bearing Witness Canada
Linnéa Rowlatt, PhD, Network on Culture
Ellen Gabriel, Kanien’keháka from Kanehsatake
Jim Abel, Kawartha Truth & Reconciliation Support Group Member
Laurie Siblock, Kawartha Truth & Reconciliation Support Group Member
Nadine Changfoot, Associate Professor, Political Studies and Trent Centre for Aging Studies
Judy Rebick, Writer
Francine Bryan
Janice Keil
Dorothy Boddy
Jane Weeks
Lori Barkley, MA
Fiona Whittington-Walsh, PhD
Tori Cress, Anishinaabe Kwe, Beausoleil First Nation
Alex Wilson, PhD, Opaskwayak Cree Nation
Joan Kuyek
Lukayo Estrella, MSW
Lina Sunseri, PhD
Monica Vida
Sheelah McLean, PhD
Darlene Kaboni, Wikwemikoong First Nation
Marlyn Bennett, PhD
Anita Olsen Harper, PhD, La Seul First Nation
thohahènte Kanien’keha:ka, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
Philip Kienholz
Ziysah von Bieberstein
Sheila Nabigon-Howlett, Peterborough
Melanie Sangster
Dr. Scott Simon, Professor, University of Ottawa
Dr. Lana Ray, Assistant Professor, Lakehead University
Jo Hayward-Haines
Rebekah Ingram, PhD
Cathy Remus, Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin territory
Mary Gordon
Pamela Schreiner
Kathleen Yearwood
Chanel Carlson, JD Candidate 2021, Red River Métis
Barbara Herring
Alana Robert, Métis
Avalon Carthew
Danielle Mackenzie
Ian Puppe, PhD
Linda ManyGuns, PhD, Siksika Nation

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau ‐ Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett ‐ Minister of Crown‐Indigenous Relations

Categories: Uncategorized

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